Pearson’s new Personal Financial Literacy program provides high school students the basic tools and knowledge they need to make informed financial decisions, while providing teachers the flexibility they need. Personal Financial Literacy, which combines textbooks with online tools, offers a practical, highly accessible focus that meets financial literacy education standards as defined by the Jump$tart Coalition and the National Business Education Association Standards.Category: financial literacyCosts: Range from $19.97 for individual unit books to $64.97 for full volume with access to MyFinLitLab online.
TEL.A.VISION has relaunched its curriculum with a focus on special-education and at-risk students. Schools can now purchase a yearly subscription for each special-education student that includes group accounts for all other classrooms at no additional charge. This new site-license program covers use by all students, teachers, and administrators at a school. The site license includes a curriculum guide, lesson plans, and online media so that each lesson can be taught with a computer and a projector and/or an interactive whiteboard. Price: Contact company for pricing. Category: special education, video production
The Preparing for Standardized Tests program is designed to improve student performance on the reading and math sections of the PSAT, ACT, and SAT exams. The program is a collection of interactivewhiteboard lessons that engages students in mastering essential college readiness and provides them with advanced test preparation. Students can practice answering questions with standardized tests and the guided practice lessons and learning tools of Promethean’s ActivClassroom. Price: Contact company for pricing. Category: test prep
Google Squared works just like the regular Google Search: Type in a search term and you are presented with results. What is different is how the results are presented and what you can do with the data. Google Squared presents the results in table form. Results are organized horizontally by several pieces of information (or what Google calls attributes.) All the results in each of the columns come from different places on the Web. You can find the source of the information for each result and attribute by clicking the link in the square. (Remind students that it’s always a good idea to check where information is coming from.)PROS: You can designate which attributes you want displayed. There are suggestions for attributes, or you can type in your own. If you don’t like or don’t need one of the search results, press the X and it goes away. Your search results are customized for your needs or what your students need.CONS: This product is still a baby, so there will be mistakes and search results that just don’t fit until the product matures.OVERALL EVALUATION: Google Squared changes the way students find information on the Web, and the ability to customize the search makes it a good tool for research and developing information literacy.www.google.com/squaredPrice: free—Steven W. Anderson
Califone (www.califone.com) launches the Spirit SD Multimedia Player/Recorder. The Spirit SD’s built-in SD card slot and USB port allow the unit to work with the latest digital file formats. The product lets students record responses and projects with a built-in microphone, helping educators monitor their progress and create audio-filled lessons that engage them. Built with shatterproof ABS plastic for durability and safety in high-use environments, the Spirit SD features a teacher-tested CD player, a cassette recorder/player, and an AM-FM radio. This unit is available as a stand-alone multimedia player/recorder or as part of a four- or six-person learning center.
Ginger Software, a program for spelling and grammar correction, now works with Internet Explorer. In addition, the new version of Ginger is more accessible, providing customizable interface settings and progress reporting to track mistakes and illustrate student progress. Students can change display attributes such as background color and font style to complement their abilities and preferences. Price: Subscriptions start at $145 for three workstations, with volume and multiple-year subscription discounts available.Category: language arts, assistive tech
District: EAST PENN SCHOOL DISTRICT Emmaus, PA; an 8,000-student districtType Of Whiteboard: Numonics (the Intelliboard 77 is $1,395), www.interactivewhiteboards.comWhy whiteboards?Michael Mohn, director of technology, says, “Whiteboards let teachers present anything that’s on their PC and engage a group of kids at once.”We chose these whiteboards because ...Mohn liked that more than one platform can be used with the Numonics boards and that he isn’t limited to a specific type of curricular content. “The personal touch went way beyond and was very impressive,” says Mohn.What do you like about the whiteboards?“Teachers can present a concept in two or three ways,” says Seidenberger. “With staff development, they can create terrific lessons.” Says Mohn, “Teachers can capture a lesson at the end and share it.”What don’t you like about the whiteboards?“Technology with all whiteboards is limited because you must project onto the board, which can cast a shadow,” says Mohn.Have teachers integrated the whiteboards successfully?“Every teacher is using them,” says Seidenberger. “We’re developing a district Web site where they can share ideas. There’s a lot of informal staff development, which we advocate for.”Any advice for schools that are considering whiteboards?Seidenberger says, “To use these to their potential, teachers need encouragement and guidance.” “The whiteboards must work seamlessly. For us, that means they’re always mounted, calibrated, and on,” says Mohn.
Hewlett Packard Mini 2140 Notebook PCThe 2140 is the most recent upgraded addition to the HP Mininote line of netbooks. The device weighs only 2.6 pounds but sports as much basic computing power and performance as any student or teacher would need in a classroom. The brushed-aluminum-clamshell case protects a 92-percent-fullsize QWERTY keyboard and 10.1-inch diagonal HP Illumi-Lite LED display. The screen supports a 16:9 aspect ratio, similar to those of many newer TVs, and you can choose between standard and high resolution. The integrated VGA webcam enables video and still-image capture built into the top of the open clamshell.PROS: The performance upgrade from the HP 2133 Mini-note is obvious. The enhanced resolution and stereo audio were immediately met by oohs and aahs from the student reviewers. The keyboard is also the most comfortable of the netbooks T&L has reviewed, which makes this the best device for older students and the best personal professional device for teachers. The 2140 feels durable to the touch, and while we didn’t perform any spill tests, the HP DuraKeys finish (a clear coating applied over the keyboard) should give added protection against any cafeteria accidents.CONS: Compared with some of the packaged education applications that come installed in competitive products, the vanilla Microsoft’s OS options are limiting. The price point may be too high for some schools and districts as well.OVERALL EVALUATION: This device would make a terrific one-to-one solution, especially for high-school students. Its performance and multimedia features would work even for students graduating and moving on to college. The netbook could also do double duty as a mobile presentation device for classrooms.www.hp.comRetail price: starts at $449
Study Island is a Web-based system for assessing students’ progress according to state standards. The service automatically addresses students’ deficiencies, provides a variety of reports, and works with several student-response systems without requiring that additional software be installed. Students are given electronic assignments to complete to state standards; if they are proficient enough, they can move on to another standard. Students who do not show proficiency receive a remediation assignment; if they do not pass it, they are given a second, easier assignment. Along the way, the system generates reports on students’ progress that can be emailed to teachers and parents.PROS: Study Island is a very good product and easy to use and has excellent reporting capabilities. The fact that there is no additional software to install is a bonus.CONS: Since the system can be accessed outside of school, a student could get help from a parent or a peer and an incorrect report on the student’s proficiency could be generated. To use the system effectively in the classroom, schools must ensure that there are enough computers for all students and that students who need remediation are given enough time to receive it within the normal school day.OVERALL EVALUATION: Study Island is an excellent way to ensure that students work to state-standard proficiency.www.studyisland.comRetail price: Varies according to product selected and school size; see Web site for further details.